2021 Firelight Year-in-Review: Film Premieres

Firelight Media
4 min readDec 13, 2021


2021 was an incredible year for Firelight Media and our community of filmmakers. In addition to welcoming new cohorts to our Documentary Lab, William Greaves Fund, Impact Campaign Fund, and FRONTLINE/Firelight Fellowship, we also expanded our documentary short film production efforts with the launch of a new series of regional shorts, HOMEGROWN (piloted as Hindsight). It was also a banner year for Firelight-supported filmmakers — including current fellows, grantees, and alumni — who released nearly two-dozen films this year, including feature-length films and documentary shorts.

On the Firelight Films side, Founder Stanley Nelson released a record three feature films this year, two of which were co-directed by members of the Firelight family. Firelight Films also released a short film by a Documentary Lab alum, with more short film productions in the works for 2022.

Read on for the updating list of 2021 film premieres by the Firelight family! (And view the lists of 2021 Awards & Honors and Program Highlights!)

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‘Hindsight’: Defining This Moment in the American South & Puerto Rico

Firelight Media partnered with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), Reel South, and WORLD Channel to launch a new series of documentary short films as part of Firelight Media’s regional short films initiative. Hindsight chronicled the lived experiences of Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities in the American South and Puerto Rico during the unprecedented events of 2020. The six films in the series explore the cultural shifts, community ingenuity, and pivotal conversations defining this moment in America. Hindsight screened at film festivals including CAAMFest, AFI Docs, the New Orleans Film Festival, and Cucalorus, and won a special award at Milwaukee Film’s Cultures and Communities Festival.

The six films in the Hindsight series are:

Amman Abbasi, Udaan (Soar)
Arleen Cruz-Alicea, Comida Pa’ Los Pobres (Food for the Poor)
Dilsey Davis, Now Let Us Sing
Anissa Latham, Missing Magic
Zac Manuel, This Body
Kiyoko McCrae, We Stay in the House

Documentary Lab Fellows & Alumni Film Premieres

Cecilia Aldarondo, Landfall, Broadcast premiere on POV on PBS
Emily Cohen Ibañez, Fruits of Labor, Broadcast premiere on POV on PBS
Yu Gu, A Woman’s Work: The NFL’s Cheerleader Problem, Broadcast premiere on PBS Independent Lens
C.J. Hunt, The Neutral Ground, Broadcast premiere on POV on PBS
Nailah Jefferson, Descended from the Promised Land: The Legacy of Black Wall Street, NYC premiere at DOC NYC
Sonia Kennebeck, Enemies of the State, Now available on demand & United States vs. Reality Winner, World Premiere at SXSW Film Festival
Jessica Kingdon, Ascension, Now streaming on Paramount+
Peter Nicks, Homeroom, Now streaming on Hulu
Ashley O’Shay, Unapologetic, Premiering December 27 on POV on PBS
Dawn Porter, Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer, Now streaming via National Geographic, & Bree Wayy: Promise Witness Remembrance, Now streaming on Paramount+
Sian-Pierre Regis, Duty Free, Broadcast premiere on PBS Independent Lens
Yoruba Richen, How It Feels To Be Free, Broadcast premiere on PBS American Masters
Rachelle Salnave, Madame Pipi, Premiere at BlackStar Film Festival (*Groundwork Regional Lab alum)
Malika Zouhali-Worrall
, Video Visit, Premiere at BAM Cinema Fest

FRONTLINE/Firelight Fellowship Broadcast Premiere

Jacqueline Olive, Death is Our Business, Now streaming via FRONTLINE PBS

As part of our FRONTLINE/Firelight Fellowship for diverse, independent producers interested in investigative documentary filmmaking, Documentary Lab alum Jacqueline Olive directed the documentary short film Death Is Our Business, which premiered on the PBS series FRONTLINE and screened at the BlackStar Film Festival.

Firelight Films Premieres

Firelight Films, the production company of Firelight Founder Stanley Nelson, released a record of three feature films in 2021, along with documentary short film directed by a Documentary Lab alum.

Stanley Nelson, Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy, Now streaming on Netflix
Stanley Nelson and Marco Williams, Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre, Now streaming on Hulu
Stanley Nelson and Traci A. Curry, Attica, now streaming via Showtime
Christine Turner, Lynching Postcards: “Token of a Great Day”, now streaming on Paramount+

Learn more about Firelight Media and its programs at firelightmedia.tv.

Learn more about Firelight Films at firelightfilms.tv.



Firelight Media

Firelight Media produces documentary films, supports nonfiction filmmakers of color, and cultivates audiences for their work. We’re #changingthestory.